Uxbridge started their first pre-season game of the 2023-2024 season away to step 5 side Burnham at their impressive 1878 Stadium. Burnham finished fourth in the Combined Counties Football League Premier North Division, a mere 9 places separating Burnham and Uxbridge in the ladder.
There were a number of familiar faces in the Uxbridge line up, including a return to the club for Lewis Cole in a 3-man centre midfield, with the always influential Kensley Maloney and the captain for this season Aaron Minhas.
Uxbridge started brightly - unlike the cloudy skies overhead - and should have been ahead in the third minute when a free kick from the left-hand side and a few ricochets later found an unmarked Sean McGuinness 6 yards out who swivelled and blazed over the bar. The tall McGuiness was playing alongside the evergreen Alan Hedley who read the play expertly, with new signing Bryan Taylor at left back and Josh Andrew at right back.
In the 8th minute Uxbridge again could have scored when Burnham decided to play out from the back from a goal kick, with eagled eyed Maloney reading the pass 30 yards from goal, who in turn fed last season's top scorer Alex Witham - who was playing on the left-hand side of a front 3 - and whilst he opened his body, his curling right footed shot just evaded the post.
In the 15th minute Uxbridge won a freekick on the by line on the edge of the area by the dancing quick footed Trialist much to the dismay of the Burnham Centre half who kept telling his left back not to dive in! Cole took it and McGuinness found himself in space in the 6-yard box, but his free header went wide.
Would we rue these missed chances? well, we nearly did a few minutes later when in the 21st minute Burnham had their second attack of the game which forced a good low save by debutant Fin Purcell denying Burnham.
With rain drizzling the referee called for a drinks break in the 24th minute after the unfortunate Burnham number 5 blocked a shot which caused him a lot of discomfort, much to the amusement of his teammates and referee!
This break did not disrupt Uxbridge and they quickly maintained control of the game and in the 31st minute the marauding Josh Andrews on the right-hand side fed new signing, striker, Dean Morgan who turned and fired just over.
With the score still somehow only 0-0, Burnham had their second effort at goal in the 36th minute when a curling 20-yard effort hit the inside of the post and fell invitingly for a Burnham attacker but a fantastic challenge by Taylor kept the scores level.
With the clock ticking down to half time, the impressive Morgan got his goal, with Andrews making another run down the right and after collecting the ball 20 yards from goal, nonchalantly turned and hammered the ball in his top left-hand corner. A very impressive first 45 minutes from the striker.
Half time came a minute after, 1-0 to Uxbridge.
The second half started with 4 changes to the Uxbridge line up with Henry Grad, Luke Paris, Lewis Patrick and Ezra Ndukuba replacing Purcell, Hedley, Taylor and Trialist.
Burnham could and should have halved the deficit in the 50th minute when a pass found a Burnham striker all on his own 10 yards out but between Grad and a challenging defender, the ball found its way to Grads welcome hands.
In the 58th minute, Andrew fed Ndukuba who made room and shot straight at the keeper. An hour had now passed and McGuinness should have had a hat-trick by now as he was unmarked on the six-yard box following a short corner routine on the right-hand side.
Uxbridge didn't have to wait long for their second goal, as in the 65th minute Anuar Ceesay received the ball on the edge of the area, used his strength to barge of the attention of the centre half to unleash an unstoppable shot in the roof of the net.
4 more Uxbridge subs occurred in the 68th minute.
On 70 minutes, Uxbridge won a corner on the left-handf side which was headed home by the unmarked Paris who ran in like a train and buried a powerful header into the net, with the Burnham players looking around wondering who was meant to be marking him! 3-0.
After so many changes the game petered out but there was still time for Uxbridge to get a fourth in the 87th minute, through substitute Mitchell Durncell who controlled the ball - following a neat midfield move - just inside the area and got his shot off which took a huge deflection to wrong foot the Burnham keeper and roll into the net.
The full-time whistle blew as Uxbridge ran out comfortable 4-0 winners. Our next pre-season game sees us take on North Greenford United at Brunel University on Saturday 15th July. North Greenford, finished four places below Burnham last season.
Report by Dave Mallam.